Expression of a single stress response protein, even in the absence of 'danger' signals displayed by invading microbes or dying cells, triggers massive reorganization and activation of immune cells, according to a paper published online in Nature Immunology.
Previous studies questioned whether stress response proteins, which are often found on the surfaces of tumours, are sufficient to activate immune defences. Adrian Hayday and co-workers designed a mouse in which expression of the stress response protein Rae1 could be turned on and off in the skin, on demand. Rae1 induction provoked reorganization of skin-resident immune cells and infiltration of activated immune cells from the blood. Surprisingly, some affected skin-resident immune cell populations promoted, whereas others suppressed, tumour rejection.
Future work is needed to understand the mechanism through which Rae1 expression induces such large-scale changes in the skin immune system, and to determine whether manipulation of Rae1 expression might hold therapeutic utility in the treatment of tumours.
Adrian Hayday (King's College London, UK)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
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